February 22, 2009

The British state is being rapidly, and humiliatingly, unmasked.

We’ve already witnessed the spectacle of Foreign Secretary David Milliband begging the U.S. State Department to give him an excuse not to release evidence that would prove the complicity of the Blair government with torture.

Now, a leaked Human Rights Watch report is about to provide case after case in which British intelligence officers questioned terror suspects directly after those suspects had been tortured by the Pakistani government.

As the Guardian’s Mark Townsend reports, HRW documents the stories of “at least 10 Britons are identified who have been allegedly tortured in Pakistan and subsequently questioned by UK intelligence officials.”

Tantalisingly, “It warns that more British cases may surface and that the issue of Pakistani terrorism suspects interrogated by British agents is likely to “run much deeper.”

Those case include Rangzieb Ahmed from Rochdale, who lost three fingernails in a Pakistani jail before being interrogated by MI5 officers.

They also include “terrorist mastermind” Rashid Rauf, who disappeared before it was reported that he had been killed in a U.S. air strike last year.

Rauf was purportedly a key element of the “airline plot” which allegedly sought to inflict multiple 9/11’s in an orgy of airborne violence. The trial of the consipirators has collapsed once – leading to most being aquitted or tried for lesser charges. Last week it stuttered again, as the judge dismissed the jury wholesale.

We must question the quality of any evidence extracted from Rauf.

Then there is Salahuddin Amin, who “says he was tortured by ISI officers between interviews with MI5 officers” – leading any evidence that he delivered to be extremely suspect.

Amin formed a key cog in the “fertiliser bomb plot” which resulted in multiple convictions last year.  Some have questioned those verdicts, including myself in a report published by the Institute of Policy Research and Development [see here].

Now we know with reasonable certainty that Amin was tortured. We don’t know if any of the other suspects (all of whom had been in Pakistan) had suffered similar treatment.

We do know that several of them refused to give evidence in court for fear of their families in Pakistan suffering reprisals at the hands of the country’s intelligence agency and, we now suspect, the British one too.


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